Judge Orders Georgia County to Move Forward with Ballot Audit
Fulton County election fraud lawsuit to proceed to ballot review
A judge has ruled that a diminished Georgia election fraud lawsuit will move forward with an audit of nearly 150,000 absentee ballots in Fulton County, according to reports.
In his ruling, Henry County Superior Court Chief Judge Brian Amero dismissed a large portion of the claims in the lawsuit.
The judge ruled that the county, county elections board, and county courts clerk could not be defendants in the suit.
However, Judge Amero kept it alive on Thursday by granting the plaintiffs' request to add individual members of the county board of elections as respondents.
The judge also left in place an order for the ballot review, allowing the audit to move forward.
The three original defendants argued they could not be sued under sovereign immunity laws, which dictate state and local governments cannot be sued without their consent.
The plaintiffs in the case, nine Georgia voters, scored a victory last month when Amero ordered scanned images of 147,000 absentee ballots to be unsealed.
But he placed the inspection, which would allow for high-resolution re-scans of ballots and an in-person review, on hold while considering the defendants' motions to dismiss.
Garland Favorito, the lead plaintiff in the case, said he viewed the judge's decision as a victory and plans to submit an inspection plan next week.
"We could be moving forward any time now unless they try to stall again.
"Fulton may make a new desperation move to postpone it."
Originally filed in December, the lawsuit says there is evidence of fraudulent ballots and improper ballot counting in Fulton County.
The county, county elections board, and county courts clerk had filed motions to dismiss the lawsuit, according to News Thud.
They argued, among other things that the lawsuit was barred by sovereign immunity, a principle that says state and local governments and can only be sued if they agree to it.
After holding a hearing on those motions Monday, Henry County Superior Court Chief Judge Brian Amero, who was specially appointed to preside over the case, agreed.
He ruled that the constitutional claims against those three entities are barred by sovereign immunity and dismissed them.
But he also granted a request by the petitioners to add the individual members of the county election board as respondents in the lawsuit instead.
The suit was filed by nine Georgia voters and is spearheaded by Garland Favorito, a longtime critic of Georgia’s election systems.
As part of the suit, they are seeking to inspect some 147,000 absentee ballots to determine whether there are illegitimate ballots among them.
Several election workers and volunteers have signed sworn statements saying they saw absentee ballots during the audit that weren’t creased from being mailed, appeared to be marked by a machine rather than by hand and were printed on different paper.
The lawsuit also repeats a widely circulated claim of fraud based on security video that shows cases of ballots being pulled from under a skirted table and counted while observers and the news media weren’t present.
The ballots are kept under seal in the custody of the clerk of Fulton County Superior and Magistrate courts.
Amero in April ordered the court clerk to release the scanned absentee ballot images.
At a hearing last month, Amero ordered that the paper ballots themselves be unsealed so that the petitioners who filed the lawsuit can inspect and scan them.
He had set a meeting for May 28 with the parties to sort out the logistics of how that review and scanning of paper ballots would proceed.
But that meeting was canceled so he could hear the motions to dismiss first.